Back in August 2014, Jack Colback received his first call-up to the England senior squad at the age of 25, one month into his Newcastle United career.
Newcastle-born Colback made the controversial switch from Sunderland on a free transfer in the summer of 2014, becoming the first man to switch between Tyne-Wear rivals since goalkeeper Lionel Perez back in 1998.
His great start to life in the black and white of the north-east spawned his inaugural call-up into Roy Hodgson’s England plans, but unfortunately, a calf injury would prevent the ‘Ginger Pirlo’ from making his international bow.
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Since then, Colback has been nothing but an afterthought. After Alan Pardew departed for Crystal Palace, Newcastle embarked on a meteoric slide that many could argue they are still enduring to this day.
The Magpies have only secured five league wins in the whole of 2015, and that has unquestionably had a knock on effect to Colback and his England hopes.
In the near 16 months since that call-up, Fabian Delph, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Ryan Mason and Jonjo Shelvey have all overtaken Colback in the midfield queue and with Euro 2016 on the horizon, Colback would appear to need a miracle to be in Hodgson’s 23 next summer.
Is it possible that Newcastle’s form has dragged Colback down? Many might argue that his form and Newcastle’s fortunes are one in the same - and whilst that’s not exclusively true the notion does have some legs.
Could it be that Newcastle’s foreign core is hampering his chances? Now we're getting somewhere.
Other than Colback, why would Hodgson ever come and watch Newcastle? Colback is one of only four outfield Englishmen at Steve McClaren’s disposal; another is Steven Taylor, who is currently injured for what seems the 1000th time.
The other two are Jamaal Lascelles and Rolando Aarons, neither of whom have enjoyed a single first-team start this season.
Lascelles and Aarons are 22 and 20-years-old respectively, and whilst individual talents, they remain on the fringes of a struggling Newcastle side and won’t be on the England manager’s radar.
Taylor has been called up to the England squad twice, once back in 2007 and again in 2013. He didn’t get on the pitch on either occasion and at 29-years-old, with more time on the physio table than on the pitch, a renaissance is highly unlikely, if not flat-out impossible.
Newcastle’s preference to scour France and Holland for players rather than the UK has led to some run-of-the-mill signings, but it has saturated the quality of English players in their ranks too.
Had Colback resisted joining his boyhood heroes last summer, Newcastle probably wouldn’t have an English starter in their line-up today.
Moreover, had Colback opted to go elsewhere, would his international prospects stand in better stead? If Hodgson wants a tenacious, deep-lying midfielder who retains possession, then there’s little doubt Colback can do that role.
However, it could be argued the current sub-par supporting cast he fights alongside on Tyneside are bringing him down. One can only hope the thrill of playing for his hometown club is worth it.
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